Hanuma Vihari resumes cricket training after lengthy break

The India batsman says he utilised his time during lockdown to prepare for the tour of Australia in 2020-21.

Hanuma Vihari at his residence on Wednesday. - V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM

India batsman Hanuma Vihari joined some of his team-mates by getting back to 'nets' in a makeshift facility in his gated residence on the outskirts of Hyderabad after a long break.

“First couple of weeks of lockdown, it was O.K. for I needed some rest after a long season. But, later on, I realised that I needed to train to avoid [gaining] weight and soon bought some gym equipment and worked really hard, changed my diet to shed that extra ounce,” 26-year-old Vihari told Sportstar in a chat at his residence here on Wednesday.

“Yes, [it was] limited training but the sessions being intense - thanks to my former Ranji team-mate D. B. Ravi Teja - really helped me feel in the comfort zone as far as my skills are concerned (sic),” he said.

Vihari said he was training with a plastic ball to be prepared for the bounce in the pitches of Australia, where India is scheduled to play four Tests and six limited-overs internationals in 2020-21. “Frankly, I took the break very positively and it also helped me prepare well for the next series,” he said.

‘Longest break’

Not being able to play cricket for months due to the lockdown was the biggest problem for Vihari. “This was the longest break in my 15-year career and it was very difficult to be away from knocking around with the willow,” he said with a smile.

“Well, preparing for the Aussie tour is in my hand and whether the series will be on or not it is not in my control. So, my job is to keep training as hard as possible,” Vihari said.

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He said the trust and confidence of his team-mates, support staff and the administration would help him realise his goal of taking his game to the next level on the Australia tour. “I want to win matches for India by being the lead performer like [Cheteshwar] Pujara did on the last tour there,” he said.

“Frankly, I want to be the best batsman in the world in the next couple of years.”

'Ability to adapt'

“From the team point of view, we want to win the Test Championship for sure. And personally, I want to keep scoring consistently to be in contention for the ODI format also. I have the ability to adapt to different conditions and change gears very easily as I believe I have the skills and mindset to play all formats of the game,” he insisted.

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Vihari, who captains Andhra in the Ranji Trophy, also spoke about his bowling skills. He said he had been bowling since school days though he felt he couldn’t do much in Ranji Trophy. “I think it is a great advantage for any team if a fifth bowler can contribute with those 10 to 15 overs and getting crucial breakthroughs,” Vihari said.

On the chances against Australia, the soft-spoken cricketer felt that with Steve Smith and David Warner returning to the team, Australia was expected to come hard at India like it did on the last tour.

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